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Annotating Literary Elements
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Rooted in Language

Annotating Literary Elements

Annotating Literary Elements

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If annotating a text feels like busywork . . . something is missing.

Annotation means adding notes to text. It’s that simple! Or . . . is it? Annotation is a key player in the development of analytical writing skills . . . but only when explicitly taught and practiced. How do you teach something so abstract? If you’re an educator treading water, we’re here to toss you a buoy — with Annotating Literary Elements!

Using ALE’s lesson-based format, teach your student how to identify structural elements, figurative language, and literary elements, and then immediately apply that knowledge to generate analysis! 

Once the process of annotating is consistently practiced, readers improve their deep comprehension, critical thinking, and analytical writing skills. Students can and will apply the method to any story, large or small. Annotation is a balance of interpretation, exploration, and comprehension — and it all becomes visible when written directly on the page. 

To unlock the secret of meaningful annotation, teach Annotating Literary Elements!

All Rooted in Language products incorporate research-based methods to support students with dyslexia, dysgraphia, developmental language disorders, and other literacy-based struggles.

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  • Grade level: 4-12 (see FAQs regarding use with younger students)
  • File count: 1 PDF
  • Page count: 54 pages
  • 5 in-depth annotation lessons with detailed instructions for repeated use with any piece of literature 
  • 3 pages of student resources for use with any piece of literature 
  • 1 page Annotation BookMark, a student-utilized reference to guide learners as they annotate (cardstock recommended)
  • Free download: 1 PDF (3 pages) Comprehension Instructional Guide that outlines an order of teaching for Trees in the Forest: Growing Readers and Writers through Deep Comprehension in conjunction with Annotating Literary Elements and more


Structural Elements

  • Plot arc
  • Point of view
  • Genre
  • Characters
  • Setting

Literary Elements with Musical Quality

  • Repetition, rhythm, and rhyme
  • Alliteration, assonance, and consonance
  • Meter and stress
  • Onomatopoeia

Figurative Language Elements

  • Metaphor and simile
  • Personification
  • Symbolism and motif
  • Allusion and imagery

Writer’s Style

  • Tone and mood
  • Satire, sarcasm, and irony
  • Hyperbole and understatement
  • Foreshadowing
  • Word choice and grammar/syntax

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use Annotating Literary Elements with younger students?

Annotating Literary Elements is designed for children who have acquired basic reading and writing skills (students must be able to write down original, sentence-level thoughts). Age-appropriate concepts included in ALE are taught to younger students (K-2) in our Pinwheels and Wand programs. Early and repeated exposure to key literary elements promotes an appreciation for these concepts, and deepens comprehension skills in growing readers and writers. 

For educators of younger students, ALE can be used as a resource to inspire modified and simplified lessons with young readers, using skill-appropriate literature and picture books. 


Will Annotating Literary Elements help my student who struggles?

Yes. Annotating Literary Elements helps students who struggle with abstract thinking. Students must be explicitly taught how to analyze text. This product provides literature samples and recommendations for practice, but the strategies can be utilized with any text throughout the school year and for years to come! Use literature that your student can read accurately, identifying and practicing the strategies and concepts taught within ALE. Lessons can also be used with literature that is read aloud to the student to advance their vocabulary and comprehension skills. Learning story structure, poetic language, and the elements of writer’s style greatly increases students’ understanding and appreciation for the text they read, regardless of the text level.


Do I need any other materials to teach with Annotating Literary Elements?

To complete the lessons in this product, the following materials are needed, in addition to general school or office supplies:

  • Mr. Wuffles by David Wiesner (available in libraries, bookstores, or online)
  • Short story “Sweet Potato Pie” by Eugenia Collier (available online in the public domain)


Can I use Annotating Literary Elements with other programs?

Yes. These concepts are designed to deepen analytical thinking and general appreciation for text. The concepts should be repeated, as they are applied to other literary works, because mastery of deep comprehension skills is obtained over time. As students interact with a variety of materials, each literary piece advances the student’s analytical thinking expressed in the writing activities.

Customer Reviews

Based on 3 reviews

I used Annotating Literary Elements last year with my 9th grader, and it is truly my favorite curriculum I’ve ever used in homeschooling. I recommend it to everyone who will listen!


My son and I had so much fun with Crispin and Annotating Literary Elements! We took all kinds of detailed notes on post-its as we read the story, then split them into character, setting, and plot arc items. It was amazing how easily he was able to discuss the characters, primary conflict, theme, setting, and climax when we laid it all out.


When you are sobbing your way through your bedtime story and the 9 year old jumps up and yells, ‘Plot arc! We are at the very bottom of the plot arc where we discover what the problem is. It can only go up from here!’ LOL—never thought a plot arc could bring comfort, but here we are. . .